As you know, we have started introducing you to our favorite traveling couples and decided to make this a series. Next up in our spotlight are Meghan and Aaron of the blog Submerged Oaks: two lovebirds who one day decided to go live (and dive) on the other side of the ocean.
Meghan and Aaron: The expats / Diving enthusiasts
The story I am about to tell you about now started a long time ago. Close your eyes for a minute and just try to picture the scene. A college in Michigan, back in 2005. Meghan, who happens to be the only girl student in her class, notices Aaron who also studies engineering. At the time, she’s in a relationship and so is he. Difficult to imagine that almost a decade later, they’ll be married, parents, and living in Germany, happily ever after… But don’t we say that the best relationships usually begin unexpectedly? And even more so if you throw traveling into the mix, if you ask me.
“We started dating in 2008,” explains Meghan when I start questioning her about her partnership with Aaron and their overall journey. “In the summer of 2009, we took our first real trip together: a week to Germany. We packed these vacations full of all the country’s highlights – the Dom in Cologne, the Neuschwanstein castle in southern Bavaria, afternoons spent in the biergartens in Munich, and consuming more beer and bratwurst than we care to admit.”
At the time, Meghan and Aaron had no idea that the country of their first trip would be the place they would one day live in. It was only in early 2014 that everything took a new turn. Aaron had the opportunity to go work in Germany. “After a brief discussion that lasted all of 5 minutes, we decided to do it. We knew that this was probably a once in a lifetime opportunity. Flights were booked, the house was packed, everything was put into storage and we made the move” recalls Meghan.
When I ask her how the transition went from the US to Europe, she tells me with all honesty: “Since we had been to Germany before, we thought we knew what we were getting in to. But as with any move, there were definite elements of culture shock. One of the hardest things to adapt to is the way that Sundays are viewed in Germany. Everything is closed. Coming from the US where stores are open later and on Sundays, and sometimes even 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, this was a difficult adjustment. Most of the other culture shock moments were small. I distinctly remember standing in the aisle of a large grocery store staring at all the different laundry detergents, trying to make sense of them, translating what I could, being overwhelmed, and then just giving up, and picking one to use.” Meghan and Aaron admit that being a couple helped with this transition. “At the end of the day, it’s comforting to have someone else so close, that is experiencing everything right along with you – both the fun and not so fun.”
The couple then decided to create “Submerged Oaks”, to keep their family and friends back home updated on their new life in Europe. And they soon found out that their blog could also help other travelers and expats. “As we traveled more, I realized that the core of our trips were “short trips,” that are a weekend up to 4 days long, explains Meghan. There are a lot of travel blogs written by people that travel full time, or take weeks to explore a place. In our desire to see as much of Europe as possible, while still maintaining full time jobs, we realized that weekend trips were our friends, and that there are not as many bloggers who focus on these short trips. We wanted to show people that it is possible to explore a city, even the more hidden aspects, on a short time frame, and still enjoy it.”
When I ask them why they choose this name for their blog, they both say: “We chose Submerged Oaks because we are avid scuba divers, and our last name is Oaks. We thought it was a fun way to subtly bring our passion of diving into the title of our blog.” Indeed, whenever they plan a trip somewhere, Aaron always checks out local dive opportunities. The couple is so passionate about diving that they created a “scuba” section on their blog. And if you think that their move to Germany put an end to their diving expeditions, you couldn’t be more mistaken. A lot of close-by countries offer unexpected opportunities: “When we were in Ireland, we discovered the abundant number of shipwrecks just off the coast and have vowed to go back and dive them some day. And last month, we dived for four days in Norway”. More recently, the couple was also able to enjoy life underwater in other European countries, such as Iceland and Austria.
Meghan and Aaron live by their bucket-list which combines the most exciting diving spots in the world, and other travel experiences that they are dreaming of. “I don’t think we will ever finish the list, says Meghan. Every place we go, we find new things to do and new experiences to have. We have lots of friends that travel often, and follow a number of travel blogs. Both of these provide endless inspiration for new things to add to the list. And to be honest, I’m completely fine with never finishing everything on it and letting it grow. It keeps us traveling, exploring, and experiencing new things. It exposes us to new people, new foods, and new sights. This adds a unique dimension to our relationship, one that I wouldn’t want to give up, and we are excited to share this with our daughter now.”
Yes, because in between diving and traveling, Meghan and Aaron also eventually became parents. “It’s amazing how something so small can be such a big change,” they tell me. “It has added a level of complexity to our travel. We now have take a stroller, more frequent breaks so that she can eat, and gone are the days of sitting in a pub with a beer all evening people watching. But, we are still the same people who love to travel, and we don’t want to let having a baby keep us from traveling. At four weeks old, she took her first weekend trip to Bruges (Belgium) and a couple weeks later, went on her first transatlantic flight to visit the US. We still want, and plan, to travel just as much as we did before she was born, but now we will just have to do things a little differently…. “
I admire how Meghan and Aaron handle the recent changes in their traveling routine. I love how they give as much importance to their new life as a family in Germany as to their passion for travel and diving. It is just more proof that any of us can make it work, if we are really willing. It is often just a matter of adjustments and compromises. Each couple I interview reminds me or teaches me a new thing about life or how to live it. Thanks Meghan and Aaron for your experiences and insights, and I am now on my quest of new couples willing to share with me some pieces of advice. If you are one of them, don’t hesitate to shoot me an email. And if you want to keep posted on Meghan and Aaron’s adventures, make sure to check out their blog, Instagram, Facebook, or Twitter.Tweet